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Speaker Series

Documenting the Resilience of Syrian Refugees – Elie Gardner

Elie Gardner, free-lance filmmaker, and photographer, screened her three short films and held the discussion on “Documenting the resilience of Syrian refugees.” 23 guests participated in the discussion that took place at the Hollings Center meeting room on April 18, 2016. Gardner’s short films document the Syrian diaspora, from the journey to Europe to the contributions they are now making in their new European communities. She also shared her own professional story of reporting on the humanitarian crisis in the region.


Elie Gardner is a freelance based in Istanbul, Turkey. In the past year, her work has focused on immigration and education, taking her to Afghanistan and up and down the Western Balkan migration route. She is the co-founder of Everyday Latin America, an Instagram account that seeks to give an authentic perspective of Latin America through photojournalistic documentation of everyday life with mobile phones. She previously worked as a staff photographer and multimedia editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and taught photography for National Geographic Student Expeditions and Webster University. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.



Refugee Crisis: The Moroccan Model – Loubna Amhair

Loubna Amhair, Member of the Parliament, Kingdom of Morocco, delivered a presentation titled “Refugee Crisis: The Moroccan Model.” 24 guests participated at the event that took place at the Hollings Center meeting room on March 8, 2016.

Loubna Amhair, is a Member of the Moroccan House of Representatives since 2011, where she serves on the Committee of Finance and Economic Development, and as speaker of the Committee of Foreign Affairs and National Defense. Prior to her election as an MP, she was an advisor to the State Minister on communication and technical matters, law projects and protocol issues. From 2007 to 2009, she was Head of the Studies Service at the Directorate for Education, Research, and Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Ms. Amhaïr has hands-on experience in rural development and the socio-economic promotion of rural women. Amhair gave an extensive presentation on the refugee situation in Morocco, mapping the routes, the origins of the migrants and the politics of the Moroccan Government.


Dimensions of Polarization in Turkey – Emre Erdoğan

Emre Erdoğan, INFAKTO RW Founder and Professor at Bilgi University, shared his recent research “The Dimensions of Polarization in Turkey” that made a lot of publicity in Turkey. 21 guests participated at the event that took place at the Columbia Global Center on February 11, 2016.


Erdoğan received his BA, MA and Ph.D. degrees from Bosphorus University. Since 1996, he has been doing public opinion research and in 2003 he founded his own independent research company Infakto RW. He has written extensively on foreign policy and public opinion, political participation, and social capital. He teaches at Bilgi and Bosphorus Universities as a part-time instructor. Erdoğan talked about the political polarization of the Turkish public, and how political parties come to define the personal identity of their voters. Pointing to the dangers of the increasing social distance, Erdoğan shared the results of his quantitative research.

Diplomacy and Foreign Policy from the Inside Out: A Swedish Perspective  Diana Janse

Diana Janse, Former Ambassador, and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Moderaterna delivered a presentation on “Diplomacy and Foreign Policy from the Inside Out: A Swedish Perspective.” 23 guests participated in the discussion that took place at the Hollings Center meeting room on February 2, 2016.


Diana Janse was the former Swedish Ambassador to Georgia, Armenia, and Syria. She is currently serving as the Foreign Policy Adviser of the Moderate Party in Sweden. Janse has more than twenty years in diplomacy and first served mission with the UN troops in the Balkans. She started her journey within the civil service and continued within the Intelligence services and the Foreign Ministry. Sweden represents one of the most gender- equal countries in the world along with other Nordic Parliaments. Janse argued that Sweden has achieved this gender equality gradually through implementing laws, and thanks to being a welfare state. Asked about her personal experiences, Janse explained that she accepted positions in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Syria to shine and grow. She also underlined the importance of mentorship and how in foreign policy, a woman needs to be twice as good as a man, adding that that is not necessarily difficult.


“Macroeconomic Effects of Gender Equality”  Ferah Salman

Ferhan Salman, Senior Economist at the Middle East and Central Asia and Member of the Gender Advisory Group of the IMF,  delivered a presentation on “Macro-Economic Impacts of Gender Equality” at our meeting, which took place on Wednesday, November 18, 2015, at Soho House Istanbul, Hollings Center. 27 guests participated in the discussion that took place at the Hollings Center meeting room. Ferhan Salman discussed the direct correlation between macroeconomic gains and gender equality. He delved into the macro-critical aspects of women’s participation in society – and the significant inequalities that persist between men and women. Various constraints, such as: gaps in labor-force participation, income equality, educational enrollment, literacy, and legal matters, have blocked women from developing their full economicpotential, thus affecting GDP per capita growth. While women have made considerable gains in gender equality and empowerment around the world, the female labor-force participation rate still remains low – and has even stagnated. The IMF remains committed to closing gaps and investing in women’s participation in the labor market.


Mr. Salman is a Senior Economist at the Middle East and Central Asia Department and a member of the Gender Advisory Group of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He serves at the World Bank-IMF Turkish Staff Association as President elect and Founder and Co-chair of the DC based think tank Capital Turkish Connections. Prior to joining the IMF, Salman worked at the Central Bank of Turkey (1996-2009). His experience and publications are in the areas of gender equity, design and implementation of IMF lending arrangements’, G20, emerging markets, and fiscal policy. Since the global crisis he has worked on a number of emerging market economies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University (2004), MS. and BS in Economics from Middle East Technical University. He is married and has a daughter.


“Challenges and threats faced by Women in the Middle East” – Asma Khader

Asma Khader, former Minister of Culture of Jordan and President of the Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J), shared her insights on the threats and challenges facing women in the Middle East with a specific focus on women refugees. 25 guests participated in the discussion that took place at the Hollings Center meeting
room on September, 17 2015.


Khader, a lawyer and human rights activist, is President of Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J) and Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women. She is former Minister of Culture and former President of the Jordanian Women’s Union. A member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, and the Advisory Committee of the Women’s Division of Human Rights Watch, she has received numerous awards and honors for her work. Asma has written and spoken widely on the topics of women, children’s rights, and human rights. She recently served on the UN International Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights violations in Libya. Asma mostly talked about the difficulties of being a female politician in the Middle East and shared her insights and experiences. She also focused on the specific problems of female refugees and warned against the dangers of not taking a clear stance against the discriminatory measures of governments.

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